NEW YORK, June 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- ITG Market Research today released the results of a recent survey showing that most US hospital executives believe that the overall US economy will expand in 2013, but they are not convinced that this growth will translate into improved business conditions for the hospital industry. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120123/NY39237LOGO ) "Our Hospital Executive Confidence Index showed its greatest improvement in three years, buoyed by recent positive economic news. Even in the latter half of 2012, we were capturing a lot of negative sentiment among hospital executives, but the proportion expecting economic conditions to deteriorate in 2013 has fallen by over 50% this quarter. It is a very promising indicator," said Graeme Christianson, Vice President of Healthcare Market Research at ITG. At the same time, the study highlights significant challenges that are specific to the hospital industry. Almost 50% of surveyed executives reported that some investment has been postponed or cancelled because of reimbursement cuts embedded in the federal budgetary sequester, and many continue to report uncertainty regarding the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, almost half of the surveyed executives reported that patient volumes fell below expectations in the first quarter of 2013. The lower volumes translated into lower than expected revenues and profits, making Q1 2013 the worst quarter in terms of reported performance since ITG Market Research initiated its Hospital Executives syndicated report series in 2011. "We've already heard from some big players like HMA (NYSE: HMA), HCA (NYSE: HCA), and Tenet (NYSE: THC) that patient volumes were soft, especially in the latter half of the first quarter," said Christianson, "but we were still surprised that executives from so many different types of facilities reported lower volumes. It may be true that the healthcare industry has avoided the full brunt of recent economic difficulties, but the industry now faces some uniquely challenging conditions."